Ten Ways to CareSep 05, 2021
When someone we love is dying, we want to do all we can for them. We want to care for them in the best way we can. But often we feel inadequate, unsure, and scared that we ‘won’t do it right’. The reality is that things are never going to be perfect, and whatever you will have done, you will have done the best you can. You will have.
A few days ago, someone asked me what advice I would give to someone who was about to lose someone. Here are ten suggestions I have based on my own experiences of being with people at the end of life.
Ten things to help care for someone as they are dying
1: Try to get detached from time. Death doesn’t happen to our timeframe, our schedule. It steps outside of time. It may speed up, or slow down or even stand still. If you have someone who can feed the dog for you, pick up the kids from school, cook a meal, someone who can help pick up the day to day responsibilities then call on them as you’ll never get this time again.
2: Be conscious about how you are in the room with the dying person. What are the unspoken things you are radiating? Anxiety, anger, fear, impatience or love, calmness and quiet reflection? The dying can be hyper-sensitive to mood and so take a deep breath, find your heart space and when words fail you, just imagine sending out rays of love and compassion from your heart to theirs.
3: This is the dying person’s time and so if they are trying to say something, let them say it, let them speak. This may be the last chance they have to say something so give them the space and the time to do that.
4: If there are a number of people in the room with the dying person, be mindful of the dynamics at play and the words being said. This isn’t the place for family arguments. And compassionate silence can be a kinder space to be in than one filled with forced jolliness.
5: If the dying person doesn’t want to eat or drink anymore, don’t force them. The body doesn’t need the food anymore. The person’s soul and spirit is preparing to leave the body, like a butterfly from a chrysalis. The time for the body is passing and it will start to close down, and part of that process means it does not need food.
6: So if the body is becoming less important, is it that the soul and spirit are growing? Are they moving up and beyond the containment of the person’s physical form? In my experience of being with the dying there have been extraordinary moments of energetic connection, even from afar. Give space for the unexplainable.
7: Working with breath is a powerful form of connection. By slowing and calming your breathing, you can help them calm theirs. When my father was dying, I spent hours of the last day of his life calming him by using my breath to help him calm his. Just as midwives work with the mother’s breathing as a child is born, so too we can work with breath to help calm the person birthing into death. The memory of doing that for him has remained profound, and healing.
8: Is there a piece of calming music the person loved, or a prayer, a poem, or a book? Are there particular places in Nature that they loved? Reading gently from the book, reciting the prayer or poem, playing the piece of music or describing the places they loved can all bring comfort - to everyone in the room.
9: Silence can be golden.
10: Be kind to yourself. There is immense pain in losing a loved one. But death is a natural part of life. We will all do it. What would be the things that would bring you comfort when your time comes? In thinking of these things, it can also help us show up for those we love with compassion and infinite care when they are at their time.
Here at the Nature for Centre Connection we place Nature, compassion and soul at the heart of our offerings. We provide training that helps people offer end of life care to those they love, or those they care for.
And, if you are reading this and you are caring for someone right now, know that these words are written with love and care for you and for the person who is leaving. My thoughts are with you.
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